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Are we aware of the issues related to Bishnupriya Manipuri?

While introducing ourselves as Bishnupriya Manipuri to others, most of us feel proud except some so-called status concerned people and we have lot of reasons to be proud of being Bishnupriya Manipuri.

By Santosh Kumar Singha, Manipal

So, while informing Punjabis, Hindi-speaking people, Kannadians, Tamilians, Telegus, Malyalis and people belonging to other states, about the greatness and faith of our culture, we do it with enthusiasm. But while doing that it is realised that there are some drawbacks in our culture which dilute its greatness. It is expected that our intellectual and community concerned people have to find some solutions and take initiatives in minimising these drawbacks and make our culture spotless as least as possible. Some of these issues are

1. We, bishnupriya manipuri people call ourselves as 'Vaishnavites' who are the devotees of lord Vishnu but the questions comes 'Do we really follow the etiquettes of Vaishnav Dharma and can honestly call ourselves as Vaishnavites?'. We have seen our Bishnupriya Manipuri people wearing 'Tulasi Mala' and 'Lukun' which is a custom to be followed by all Vaishnavites according to the main vaishnav scripture i.e., SRIMAD BHAGAVATAM.

But most of our people do not know about the rules and conditions to be fulfilled while wearing these items as these rules are already mentioned in ‘Srimad Bhagavatam'. It is written in 'Srimad Bhagavatam' that all Vaishnavites should wear Tulasi Mala and Lukun being a Vaishnav (A Lord Krishna Devotee) as it provides us the identity of devotee of Lord Krishna who is known as the lord of the lords i.e., the supreme lord. Moreover the benefits of wearing these items according to 'Srimad Bhagavatam' is that it radiates positive energy always and provides success whatever the devotee does and also when devotee wearing these items will be on death-bed, Yamraj's messenger can not take his soul seeing the items and thus his soul will go to 'Vaikuntha Lok' where Lord Krishna lives. But for wearing and getting the benefits, there are 4 rules which have to strictly followed ….

a) No fish, meat and any flesh items…….even no onion and garlic

b) No illicit sex before marriage

c) No intoxication (tobacco, pan etc.)

d) No gambling

While following our custom, it does not put restrictions on taking fish and fish products (hidol) and thus we Bishnupriya Manipuri people do not fulfill the condition of not taking fish even though we do not allow onion and garlic in our kitchens yet. So, violating the rules of Vaishnav Dharma by taking fish and fish-products, how can we people can proudly call ourselves as Vaishnavites and wear 'Tulasi mala' without following and even not knowing the reasons of wearing those items?

2. How can we call ourselves Vaishnavites as we follow the tribe-culture like 'Aapokpa Homadena' where in doing the puja, it is must to include lived fish and the prasadam i.e. 'Baandara' also includes fish which is completely against Vaishnav dharma.

I welcome all our respected, intellectual and community concerned people to put light on the above issues.

These are some other issues related to our culture and will be discussed very soon.

Jai Bishnupriya Manipuri, Jai Sadhu Baba

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  1. Well, i have another tale to tell...When I was in primary classes, we were taught about the caste system in earlier Indian societies - Kshatriya, Baishnav, Baishya and Shudra...When I asked my Grandpa about it, he told me that we were Kshatriyas - being the descendents of Arjuna...

    So, i'm a bit confused...My grandfather was a renowned 'Ishalpa', so I trust him too...

  2. Good article Santosh. Good questions. I would also like to know the reasons. Will be interesting to find out what may be the answers. Very good. Keep it up.


  3. What had Tridiv said is absolutely correct.During our childhood I never heard/saw of old people discussing/worshipping of deity, Vishnu.I never heard of any group/groups among us discussing Bhagabat Gita.Very seldom we heard people saying, so and so scholar would give a discourse on Bhagabat Gita,because it was written in sanskrit.We may say ourselves,we are vaishnavites;but never propagate.
    It will continue....

  4. Well tridiv, i accept whatever your grandfather said as it is claimed by we bishnupriya manipuri. But, there is a question mark on it as all manipuris(meitei as well as bishnupriya manipuri)do the worship of mainly lord krishna(which is another form of vishnu). DURGA PUJA and other deiteis worship, we learnt it being in contact with bengali culture for long time. No history claims that we did worshiping of other deiteis except Krishna during our ancestors time in manipur.Thats why our main festivals are RAAS, RAKHWAL, RATHYATRA, KAANGPAALI, KHECHURI PAALI etc which are all concerned with worship of Lord Krishna only.

    Moreover,history says that our ancestors in manipur initially had their own Gods i.e. apokpa and Ghoror kunaar dou before the entrance of SHANTI DAS GOSAIN in manipur from bengal. Shanti Das Gosain was the disciple of CHAITANYA MAHAPRABHU who was the the main source behind the creation of Vaishnav Sampradaya and Vaishnavites.Chantanya Mahaprabhu's disciples spread in different directions to spread Vaishnav Dharma and thus Shanti Das Gosain came in Manipur. Under his guidance, the king of that time took the Vaishnav dharma and spread it and thus our ancestors became Vaishnav, but some of our old rituals we are still following like Aapokpa Homadena, Goror Kunar Dou which is tribe culture and not at all Vaishnav culture.

    As far as Rebati Uncle's doubt is concerned, just want to clarify that Vasihnavism is not about worshipping Lord Vishnu only.....but of Lord Krishna as well, since Lord Krishna and Lord Vishnu are same God. There is a sampradaya called Vaishnav in Tamilnadu who worship Lord Vishnu, moreover there is another reknowned international organisation called ISKCON who worship lord krishna and are also called Vaishnavs.

  5. Moreover, as far as the statement made by my friend tridiv is concerned

    'When I was in primary classes, we were taught about the caste system in earlier Indian societies - Kshatriya, Baishnav, Baishya and Shudra'

    everything is right except vaishnav as it is not vaishnav but brahman.

    Well, there is no doubt that we are vaishnavs but what i want to communicate is that we are not following the etiquettes of Vaishnav sampradaya but claim ourselves as Vaishnav.

    I request if anybody knows anything more on it, kindly put light on it.

  6. sorry with that Vaishnav and Brahman was way back memory lane, so cudn't remember well...

    Anyways, a brilliant effort...Hope to c more from u my friend...

  7. I m not going to debate whether Lord Krishna is same as Lord Bishnu
    or Lord Bishnu incarnated as Sree Krishna.It is the faith one has in his/her mind.I have no knowledge of Vaishnav culture,so i m learning it now.

  8. Santosh,
    Discussion on the topics related to 'dharma', culture, customs are really tough task.

    I think, we should not mix up some rituals with religous guidelines and one should not read Srimad Bhagavatam in tender age (not before 55 or 60, it is my personal experience). If someone is busy in research work about the impact of Bhagavatam on Bishnupriya Manipuri society, that is separate thing. I have no objection.
    Sadhu Baba had already told us how to perform 'Nitya Karmas".One can follow them.
    There is no doubt that we are Vaishnavites. But the question is -- how may people know the principles of Vaishnav dharma !!

    Here, we should know first -- what is dharma. What is the difference between dharma and culture.
    What is the difference between culture and customs, what is cultural transition etc.

    This is a fact that one cannot think about well-being of the society or religion, cultural revolution etc with empty stomach. And the most pathetic scenario of our society is that 90 per cent youngsters in villages are not interested in taking social responsibilities or busy in petty politics ( may be due to financial constraint or financial insecurity in life). On the other hand most of the Bishnupriya Manipuri people, who are residing in the metros or any other cities, are busy in learning or earning or in earning while learning.

    Now the question is -- who will come out to fight for the social cause. Who will spread the message of Sadhu Baba. Who will be next Gokulananda Gitiswami ?

  9. Fantastic post Ranjitda.
    Would be great if you tell us more about Nitya Karmas. I am sure lot of people would be eager to know.


  10. Mr. Ranjit has said that one should not read Srimad Bhagavatam before (60-65) years of age and this is the reason because of which our aged people of age more than 60 and 65 wearing tulasi mala and lukun while eating fish. Because of the statement made by Mr, Ranjit Sinha, our elders even do not know the reasons behind wearing those stuffs otherwise they whould never violate the etiquettes. If our elders are asked the reason behind wearing those stuffs, there will not be any answer and it is my personal experience. I have asked so many people till my 26 years of age. Finally a got this in Srimad Bhagavatam only after my so much effort in searching the reason. If i would also think like Mr. Ranjit, i would have never found the reasons and could share with my intellectual people here. No one has the right to decide which book if it is religious or spiritual has to be read for mass if it gives you knowledge and wisdom to enlighten the darkness of ignorance.

    Being a bishnupriya manipuri youth, i have the right to know from my elders why they are wearing those stuffs and asking us to follow that. Should we blindly follow our elders or we should search for the reasons and for that if somebody under age of 60-65 as said by Mr. ranjit do read Srimad Bhagavatam, whats the problem with that.

    If Mr. Ranjit sinha is married and his child ask him the same reason, what would he reply?Does he have any answer and if so, what is the answer?

    It is my request to my seniors never to demotivate the youths if they raise questions and find answers to some of the questions which our seniors do not have.

  11. Vaishnavism is more like a philosophy than the stereotyped surface dispositions like No-meat-eating, No-gambling, No- intoxication or No illicit-sex. For your kind information, Vaishnavism is not all about SRIMAD BHAGAVATAM or wearing Tulsi Mala's or Lakun's. Vaishnavism had its diverse schools in different region in India. There was Ramandi Vaishnavism of Shri Vishnu Swami sect. Another sect of Vaishnavism Nimandi was founded by Nimbark in the 11th century. Shri Jayadeva and Keshav Kashmiri were the great exponents of Nimbark. It's not only Sri Chaitanya, many other great saints and preachers like Sankaradeva, Kabir, Ballavacharya, etc. are considered to be great Gurus of Vaishnavism.

    For Bishnupriya Manipuris, we have our own school of Vaishnavism. In the olden days our ancestors worshipped Apokpa and many other Gods and practiced our own religion which was a form of Animism. It was 18th century when most of our people had been converted to Hinduism by one Meitei King Pamhaiba in connivance with one Bengali idiot called Santidas Bababji. The king also incorporated some of the old manipuri gods into his new religion of Hinduism and amalgamated the folklore to blend with Hindu philosophy. All our original Literatures and Arts had been adopted, converted and merged into the core of Hinduism. There are still many evidances in our culture and custom. The traditional deities are still worshiped along with the Hindu deities, sometimes with more admiration and esteem in every house. Also in our old folklore, in the folktales, in the ancient songs, proverbs there is no mention of any Hindu gods. But the most renowned ancient folk songs of Bishnupriya Manipuri, which are perhaps the earliest evidence of our literature, refers a lot about Sorelel, Pahangpa, Ima-Githani and Sanamahi.

    There were Ramandi, Gouriya, Nimandi sects but the king of Manipur resolved to follow the path of Gouriya Vaisnavism which became the state religion of Manipur. But the newer faith had not eradicated the old Manipuri Culture and faith of the ancient time. It consequently became a much more philosophically rich Vaishnavism in form, after frequent changes from one to another adopting aspects of olden culture and modified by it, became only in a single faith, Manipuri Vaishnavism.

    So Manipuri Vaishnavism is much more deep in philosophically, theologically and historically much more sophisticated than any other school of Vaishnavism. Practically in social customs, manners, ethics and senses Manipuris are far far civilized and advanced than other parts of India where Caste system, Social nuisances etc are sucking the bloods from the brains of common people. Its all because of our far-sighted and very smart ancestors who had explored the entire world and absorbed the best of things to their lofty philosophy .

    Manipuri vaishnava’s are semi-vegetarian since the time when Gaudiya Vaishnavism was declared as the state religion of Manipur in 18th century. Great Vaishnava missionaries like Ramnarayan Shiromani (a descendant of Upendra Mishra, grand father of Sri Chaitanya), Ganganarayan Chakravarti, Nidhiram Achariya, Thakur Ram Gopal Vairagi, Srirupa Paramananda Thakur, Thakur Visdialanker, Jagadish Thakur etc. and later ISKON founder Sri Prabhupada visited Manipur and appreciated our vaishnavite customs and manners.

    Let us not forget that Bishnupriya Manipuri is a name of a community/language/culture, but NOT a religious group.

    There was a discusion in the past in the manipuri forum -

    Thank you.

  12. Dear Santosh,
    Everybody has right to decide what kind of book he or she should read to gather knowledge. I have no intention to discourage or demotivate the youths.
    But when it is Srimad Bhagavatam, or any other religious book, I find it difficult to learn something or gain knowledge without the help of preacher or spiritual leader. I think, I need enough time to go deep into it to gain knowledge with the help of preacher. Therefore, it is my personal opinion that after ‘Grihasta jivan’, ( say after 60-65) it will be right time to concentrate more on such thing to gain proper knowledge.
    I do appreciate you for your inquisitive mind.


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